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The Horrible People Show

Fnord12 and i recently started watching Billions. It was of interest to us because it's created by the 2 guys who wrote Ocean's Thirteen and the author of Too Big to Fail.

Turns out, the show is basically full of characters who are just awful, awful people. But while that's true, they're not one dimensional caricatures. The douchebag hedge fund guy actually loves his wife and has a real sense of loyalty to friends. The douchebag U.S. Attorney has good intentions when it comes to making rich guys serve time and not just get off with a fine, and despite a tendency to manipulate everybody around him, has a healthy relationship with his wife. It even portrays BDSM in a healthy way (i'm looking at you, Fifty Shades).

So the characters are multi-dimensional. The dialogue is quick and complex. And with Andrew Ross Sorkin's input, i'm assuming it's at least accurate in the portrayal of the investment business even if the plot is soap opera-esque.

We're enjoying it, but i gotta tell you, i can't understand half of what the hedge fund characters are saying. At one point, we had to pause the show and get Wall Street by Doug Henwood to try to understand what illegal shenanigans were going on. Even after reading Henwood's definition and example, i still wasn't quite sure what the hell was happening.

Despite this, it's pretty obvious that these people live in a world completely removed from the rest of us. Everything hinges on the result of a gamble on a gamble on a gamble. Transactions are in millions of dollars. But some of the time they're gambling with a pension fund! It's one thing if they're playing roulette with some rich guy's money, but to gamble with someone's pension and all because they can offer you the chance that they might win big? Yeah, but what happens if you lose big? No big deal to someone with millions of dollars of disposable income. Totally different story to a 70yr old retiree who's counting on that $2000/month check to pay for housing and food.

Now, while i'm enjoying the show and it does pass the Bechdel test and there are a few minorities with actual speaking roles, i am a little peeved that although the one character is based on New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, they cast a white guy. Were they afraid the audience couldn't empathize with a non-white main character? Was there a dearth of Indian actors to fulfill the role?

By min | March 15, 2017, 8:17 AM | TeeVee